Azores Filhós - Traditional Fried Dough
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This "filhós" recipe pronounced / fee-lyos / is a traditional treat from Portugal. Small dough balls are fried to golden perfection. Excellent with coffee.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Portuguese
Serves: 20 (give or take a couple)
  • 2¼ tsp traditionl active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp white granulated sugar
  • 6¾ cups (1 kg) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbs butter at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs beaten
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 11/4 cups of water at room temp. (add more water if you find the dough too stiff. 1 tbs at-a-time)
  • 100 fl oz of vegetable oil for deep frying
  1. In a small bowl, mix yeast, ¼ cup warm water and 1 tsp sugar and set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Pour the flour into a large stand mixer bowl.
  3. Make a cove/pocket in the middle of the flour with a spoon or a clean fist.
  4. Pour all remaining ingredients, including the yeast mixture in the flour pocket.
  5. Start mixer on kneading setting and knead for 14 minutes.
  6. Check the dough after 5 minutes during the kneading step. The dough should be soft but not overly wet. The dough hook should be moving easily through the dough. Add a bit more water at this point if the dough seems very dense, 1 tablespoon at-a-time.
  7. Pour the dough into a large bowl.
  8. Cover with a towel and a blanket to keep it warm.
  9. Let rise for 3 to 4 hours or until it doubles in size.
  10. Layout a large towel and lightly flour the top of the towel.
  11. Punch down the dough.
  12. Take a pinch of dough (about the size of a small plum) and roll into a ball.
  13. Place the dough ball on the floured towel and repeat until all the dough is used.
  14. Lightly press/flatten all of the dough balls a little and cover with another towel.
  15. Let rise for an additional 15 minutes.
  16. In a large pot, heat up the vegetable oil to between 350 ºF and 360 ºF (use a candy thermometer).
  17. Uncover a corner, press down the first dough ball.
  18. Pickup the first one and stretch it just a little to expand it like a tiny pizza (careful not to over stretch or tear).
  19. Make sure to keep the remaining dough covered while preparing each "Filhó" to avoid drying them out.
  20. Carefully place the dough in the hot oil (see photo). This should be placed and not dropped to avoid splatter.
  21. The dough will drop to the bottom and then start to rise to the top.
  22. Using two heat-proof slotted spoons, turn the dough over to start colouring the other side. Turn every 10 seconds until a nice golden colour is achieved all around the dough. Turning it often will help it puff up.
  23. Carefully remove the dough onto a large platter lined with paper towels to soak up the grease. Stand them on their sides and back to back to leave room for all 20.
  24. Repeat the last six steps until all of the portions are fried.
  25. Serve warm or cooled.
The prep time is active prep time. Add about 3 to 4 hours for rising.
These can be frozen for future use. Freeze in freezer bag just after they've cooled off.
Recipe by Photos & Food at